Tuesday, 10 December 2013

On Weddings And Family Pressure


Her voice carried. At first I thought she was praying but for that time of the day, it seemed unlikely. As much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t. She was hysterical and she was past caring. Speaking a dialect I couldn’t understand, she cried her heart out, venting for what seemed like an awfully long time. Unable to bear the thought of anyone crying like that, I went over to her apartment. The door was open. Unsure, I peeked in and there she was, face streaked with tears, eyes red and swollen.

She was on the phone for a while longer. I sat beside her and rubbed her arms. She hung up, looked at me and said in a hoarse whisper ‘I’m tired’ over and over again.
‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘Am I the only one or are there other people going through what I’m going through?’
I kept quiet.
And she told me one of the most incredulous stories I’ve ever heard.

She’s engaged to be married
to a guy who loves her to death. At 35 it’s a dream come true. Elated, she took her husband home for introduction. All went well until they got the ‘list.’ For those who are alien to Nigerian culture, the list represents all the items a guy needs to buy to fulfill the traditional obligations necessary for him to call a woman his wife.

All the items requested came to about 3.5 million naira. But that wasn’t all; also on the list was a generator, complete with technical specs and a ridiculous amount of money meant for the father of the bride. It may not seem like much but anyone who has gone through the hassle of a Nigerian wedding knows how the process leaves new couples almost penniless by the time its all over.

Her husband to be, a decent and easygoing lecturer, didn’t have that kind of money not with a baby on the way and a traditional, court and church wedding still pending. Worried sick, she called to beg her father to slash the budget. He insisted she was the ‘Ada’ and deserved nothing less. She reminded him that a generator had nothing to do with the wedding. After much haggling, she was able to get some things off the budget but the battle was far from over.

Everyday after that, there was a new request for money - The village elders need settlement… The want to rent extra canopies... They need to make all the soups from their region for the guy’s people to sample, as was the tradition... The family house was due for painting.... Since she didn’t have a job, every time there was a new request, she had to ask her fiancĂ©e who was getting really overwhelmed.

She began to panic when her fiancé asked if they could postpone the wedding until she gave birth by which time he would have saved up some decent cash. She refused.

Her father said he needed a new traditional outfit for the introduction. Shortly after, her mother called with the same request. She borrowed money, bought the materials and sent to them. She became hysterical when she called her father to beg for some leniency and completely missing the distress in her voice, he asked her, ‘I’ve seen the material you sent but who is going to pay for the sewing?’

Resolute, she smiled at me and said icily ‘They should go ahead and ask for everything they want. After the wedding, I will move to my husband’s house. I will change my number, and that’s the last they will hear from me.’

After her wedding, she called me with a strange number. Before she hung up she told me clearly ‘Naomi, this is my new number. Please don’t give it to anyone.’

I wonder how long she can keep it up. I’m not sure how anyone can live without his or her family but then again, what is family?


©Naomi Lucas

7 comments:

vanessa daudu said...

What is family? That is the question. This story is nothing short of incredulous. How can her"family" be so thoughtless and callous? *Sigh*

Myne Whitman said...

Hmm... why do so many of us find it hard to tell off our parents and elders when they are clearly doing either something wrong, or something that hurts us? I doubt changing her numbers after all that will help much.

Naomi Lucas said...

My dear, it beats me too. Believe it or not, her dad still collected his money for sewing oh...

Naomi Lucas said...

Myne, even with all her cries and pleas and threats, like I told Vanessa, her dad still collected the money. If you tell the parents or elders off, who will give the man permission to marry you? Even the church won't wed you without parental consent... Parents know this and they exploit it to the fullest...

Wanna-be Anti-social said...

They should meet my mother...she ordered us to do only court marriage, refused to get involved in any "aso ebi" clothes and swore that if the guest list was more than 20 people, she wouldn't show up...that helped a whole lot!! :-)

Wanna-be Anti-social said...

They should meet my mother. She ordered us to do only court wedding, refused to play any part in "aso ebi" wedding clothes and swore that if the guest list was more than 20people, she wouldn't show up.....that helped us loads!!! :-D

Naomi Lucas said...

Oh boy! Your mum should be a Bond Woman, LOL.